How an American MaaS App Succesfully Broke Into the French Market

View from Eiffel tower
By Jessica Pennetier, Head of International Communications, Choose Paris Region

When searching for a diverse and unique part of Europe to launch in, Paris Region was Migo’s first choice. The Region’s forward-thinking attitude towards mobility, the business ecosystem and the healthcare are some of the many reasons Migo chose to launch its app here. Choose Paris Region sat down with Migo to learn more about how they sucessfully intoduced their app to the French Market.

Please tell us a few words about MIGO

We founded Migo in Seattle 4 years ago as the first multi-modal mobility app in North America. At that time there were multiple taxi companies trying to compete with the new ride share companies, docked and dockless bikes beginning to emerge, and car sharing was growing fast – but almost every city had a different set of providers. An app that helps you find what was out there, what’s new, compare prices, pickup times and routes was interesting to both residents and tourists. We liked the word ‘MIGO’ as a shortening of the Spanish word “Amigo” to communicate that Migo was a friend to help you find the best way to get around, no matter where you happened to be. It also worked that in English it’s pronounced “Mee-Go” or “I-go”, so the name is a fun play on words.

We grew very quickly in our first couple of years in North America, and we soon realized that people were making decisions about what ride to take not only on price, but also on reliability, perceived convenience and safety, and that many people would overcome an initial desire to stick with just ‘what they know’ if you gave them important information, in a clear and concise way, right at the moment that they need a ride.

We also realized early on that having a strong partner in a city with clearly articulated priorities for mobility, the environment, public transportation, health and transportation equity was an important ingredient for the success of MaaS, and we’ve tended to focus on the cities that are more forward-looking. In that way Seattle was a perfect ‘first city’ for us to launch in because in the North American market, Seattle is a leader in forward-thinking mobility policy. France is as well, in general, and Paris Region specifically with the LOM (Law on Mobility).

What led you to expand to Paris Region and what support did Choose Paris Region grant you?

From the very beginning we’ve wanted to think and act like a company that operates around the world, because mobility is changing all around the world and we’ve felt we could provide a great mobility solution for residents and travellers. But even in that context France has always been special for Migo. One of our earliest investors was Via-ID, based here in Paris and Lille and our CTO, Shan, grew up in Paris. So France and Paris, in particular, has been important to us. Paris has been a leader in the region with respect to being forward thinking about mobility, the environment, and the health of citizens and tourists, so it’s a great place to launch Migo. Paris is also unique in that it has one of the oldest and most comprehensive Metro systems in the world, but also has embraced a diversity of modern services.

Of course, there is a big difference between appreciating Paris and operating as a business here, and Choose Paris Region has been instrumental in helping us understand how to get started here, build relationships and find people to help us succeed. Choose Paris Region has also be very helpful connecting us with the city, with Ile-de-France Mobilite, numerous providers that we did not know through Via-ID or our own network.

You developed a new version of your app for your Paris launch that has already been downloaded by more than 25000 people. How do you explain this success?

We have been working on this for a while in order to make sure we were seen as a serious company in the space. We began building our partnerships here in Paris at the Autonomy mobility tradeshow in October of 2019 and began testing Migo with users as early as January 2020. We received important feedback from users about how Migo performed and what users wanted from a MaaS discovery app. We took our time to incorporate the feedback into this version of Migo, which, as you mention, we are launching first into Paris.

We had originally hoped to launch in Migo in late March 2020, but with Covid-19 that proved to be a very difficult time. However, our beta testers continued to provide feedback so we had the confidence in late June to begin opening up Migo to more users. I’m happy to say that since June, over 25,000 people have downloaded Migo in France, most of them in the Paris Region, and more than half of those people have come from users telling other users!

This new version of Migo is unique among MaaS apps in that we provide detailed performance data in areas that customers have come to expect, like estimated pickup time reliability, and precise Covid-19 Health Safety measures taken, which can be a little bit different between providers. We will be expanding this information over the next few months but we think we can already show something new and very helpful in the MaaS space to Paris residents!

What has been the impact of Covid-19 (good and bad) on your business?

The biggest impact is that we had to delay our launch from March until now, but in hindsight it did allow us to test more, gather more feedback and quietly grow our user base since June in order to make Migo an even better product. Since the latest curfews in October have gone into effect we have seen a sharp decline in both the number and the length of rides being taken, but not as severe as last March.

What is your take on the evolution of mobility patterns/trends in Paris during COVID and now that lockdown measures have been eased?

I think we have been surprised to see that many of our new users first check public transit on Migo, even with COVID, which does not happen nearly as much in the US (though for many reasons of course). It’s led us to work hard to improve our public transit product, which is pretty good today but will be looking great in November!

The most interesting effect to see, but also very predictable, perhaps has been the percentage of people who use Migo to find a scooter or bike versus a Taxi or VTC, and how it changed sharply on June 21 (when lockdown eased during the spring COVID period) and then again in September. People’s behaviours really seemed to change overnight!

Please describe Mobility in Paris Region in 3 words!

Diverse, Modern, Exciting!


Related articles:

Your Guide to the French Mobility Orientation Law

Paris Region Is Taking Sustainability To the Next Level: What You Need To Know

How to Win a Mobility Tender: Insights from the Paris Scooter Operators